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U.S. Doesn’t Say Much as Russia Violates Georgia’s Turf

13 To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs This story is part of Columnists’ Opinions Russia, poised for failure: Column Ilan Berman 6:03 p.m. EDT September 17, 2013 Chinese dominance and internal conflict pose threat for Putin’s country. Chinese President Xi Jinping greets Russian President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting in St. Petersburg this month. (Photo: AP) By mid-century, the Russian Federation’s population could shrink 25 percent. Unrest is spreading from Russia’s North Caucasus to Russia’s heartland. China is working to speed up Russia’s decline, and its own advance. SHARE 151 CONNECT 32 TWEET 13 COMMENTEMAILMORE On the surface, Russia seems to be a nation on the march. Last week, Russia’s larger-than-life president, Vladimir Putin , strong-armed the United States into accepting his plan for dealing with Syria’s chemical weapons. There are signs Putin is preparing to expand Russia’s role in Iran and its nuclear program, which successive American administrations have failed to shut down. But today’s appearance of strength hides growing weakness that could do more damage to American interests than any mischief Russia can cause today.

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Previous AP/Bernandino Hernandez Twin hurricanes in Mexico A low income neighborhood is covered by floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Manuel in Acapulco, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Previous AP/Bernandino Hernandez Twin hurricanes in Mexico A child lies with his dog at a shelter set up for people affected by Tropical Storm Manuel in the city of Acapulco, Mexico, Tuesday Sept. 17, 2013. Previous AP/Bernandino Hernandez Twin hurricanes in Mexico Hundreds of stranded tourists arrive at a military airbase in hopes of getting a seat on a Mexican Air Force jet flight, in Pie de la Cuesta, near Acapulco, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. With roads blocked by landslides, rockslides, floods and collapsed bridges, Acapulco was cut off from road transport after Tropical Storm Manuel made landfall on Sunday. The airport as well, was flooded. Emergency flights began arriving in Acapulco to evacuate at least 40,000 mainly Mexican tourists stranded in the resort city. Previous AP/Bernandino Hernandez Twin hurricanes in Mexico A man works to break apart a boulder with a jackhammer as people make their way on foot, near a road, that was cut off after heavy rains brought on by Tropical Storm Manuel triggered a landslide, on the outskirts of Acapulco, Mexico, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.

AFP Friday, Sep 20, 2013 MOSCOW, Sept 19, 2013 – Russia on Thursday threatened to block Facebook for allegedly publishing ads for illegal designer drugs on its website. The state media watchdog said it had added Facebook to a blacklist and that the social network would be blocked within three days if the violations were not resolved. Facebook responded swiftly to the threat, within hours removing the ads which led users to a site selling the designer drug “Spice” and other synthetic narcotics. A spokesman for the California-based company told the Russian tech site Digit.ru that the ads were the result of a “bug”. The tussle was the latest episode in what appears to be a continuing crusade by Russian conservatives to challenge US web giants in Russia. The investigation into Facebook was prompted by a complaint from Ruslan Gattarov, a senator from the ruling party, United Russia, who has recently campaigned against alleged breaches of Russians’ rights by major US Internet firms. This “has shown that there are no untouchable companies – if the law is broken, they must react, and if they don’t, they can expect to be blocked,” the senator told the ITAR-TASS news agency after Facebook pulled the ads. Gattarov had said earlier this week that he wanted Facebook to face a fine of several million dollars. The ads had apparently appeared on the site for some time, but authorities only acted after Gattarov formally complained, independent channel TV Rain reported. Gattarov on Thursday called for Facebook to open an office in Russia. The absence of permanent premises for the company in the country has long been a gripe for the Russian government. Gattarov, who heads the presidential council on developing Internet use, has in recent months called for the law enforcement agencies to investigate Apple and Twitter over alleged violations of users’ privacy and argued that Gmail violates Russia’s constitution. Gattarov has been a particularly vocal critic of the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programmes, revealed by fugitive Edward Snowden. In August, he founded a website to raise funds for Snowden, after Russia granted him asylum. Become a fan on Facebook

Russia threatens to block Facebook over drug ads

lawmakers. But Washington’s relative silence in the face of the violation did. The U.S., arguably Georgia’s strongest ally in the West, has issued no formal statements from Washington. The European Union, on the other hand, is publicly raising objections to the process of “erecting fences and other physical obstacles along the administrative boundary lines with South Ossetia.” And on Wednesday, NATO’s special representative for the Caucasus James Appathurai said “this violates the agreement and makes political progress more difficult.” The State Department did not respond to a request for comment by The Cable on a formal response to the developments although a Georgian official notes that U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland did say the incursions were “in violation of international law” on Thursday. The muted reaction “is unusual,” Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow for Russian and Eurasian studies at the Heritage Foundation, said. “But it would be consistent with the U.S. engaging Russia on Syria right now.” The relative quiet is troubling some Georgian officials, who are afraid that their issues are about to get shoved aside as the American and Russian government try to work through an agreement to rid Syria of chemical weapons. Reports of Russian troops building barbed-wire fences along the border of Ditsi emerged on Tuesday as a group journalists attempting to travel into South Ossetia witnessed the wiring of fences. Georgians accuse the troops of trying to annex as much as 500 square meters of Georgian-controlled territory and committing acts of violence against local residents, while Russia maintains that its troops are there to maintain peace in a country still recovering from its five day war with Georgia in 2008. It’s not a lot of territory, of course. But Cohen said the transgression warrants a response from the State Department. “The principle of territorial integrity is an important principle of U.S.